Can a sprinter fight well

Kittel vs. Greipel: duel at the Giro

Marcel Kittel returns to the big stage at the Giro d'Italia. On the way to the hoped-for stage win, however, he has to defeat Andre Greipel in the German sprint duel.

The form is right, the automatisms in the new team take effect, but Marcel Kittel still has to pass the first real school-leaving exam. At the 99th Giro d'Italia, the top sprinter will return to the big cycling stage on Friday, and after the 2015 epidemic season, only stage wins will count for Kittel in the first important national tour of the year.

In the fight for the sprinter throne at the Giro, however, one driver stands in Kittel's way: Andre Greipel. The "Gorilla" from Rostock looks back on the best season of his career so far - and does not want to leave his status as the fastest German professional cyclist to the regained coat without a fight.

Kittel against Greipel - the duel between the top German sprinters could shape the Tour of Italy. In any case, Kittel is highly motivated. "The Giro is the first absolute highlight of the season for me. You can't force anything, of course, but it should work the way we imagine it," said the 27-year-old SID.

New team - new luck

Kittel had to wait almost two years for a highlight like the Giro. Among other things, with eight tour stage wins in 2013 and 2014, the high-flyer seemed to start an era, but a stubborn viral disease put Kittel almost completely out of action last year.

While the Arnstadt-born man hardly made an appearance and separated from the Giant-Alpcein team, Greipel flourished in the familiar surroundings of his Lotto-Soudal team and celebrated four days of success on the Tour of France.

Time trial specialist Tony Martin (Cottbus) switched to Etixx-QuickStep for the new season. The Thuringian has already celebrated eight victories, including the Tour de Romandie in Switzerland the previous week. "I'm in a good mood, I feel good, I can't complain," said Kittel, who has long since arrived at Etixx.

"I'm really satisfied with the team, the good start went well. Achieving the first goals of the season was important for me and the team. It's an absolutely good basis for what's to come," said Kittel. With the Belgian team, Kittel enjoys the previously lost trust of the sporting leadership.

Giro building block for Tour de France

You are competing in the Giro "to help Marcel achieve a stage win," said sports director Davide Bramati. That is why Fabio Sabatini (Italy) and Lukasz Wisniowski (Poland) are important helpers in the nine-person Etixx line-up.

In contrast to its Giro premiere in 2014, when Kittel got out early after the stage wins in Belfast and Dublin, Kittel wants to stay with the race as long as possible. "The Giro should also be a good building block for the rest of the season. In and around the Giro, of course, everything is coordinated with the Tour," said Kittel.

The same applies to Greipel, who wants to continue a series of successes. Since 2008, the 33-year-old has always won at least one stage in a major tour (Giro, Tour, Vuelta). The first of around six to eight opportunities for a sprint victory is offered to Greipel and Kittel on Saturday on the second stage to Nijmegen in the Netherlands.